Gophers

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Oolie
Posts: 20
Joined: 10 Nov 2019, 20:52

Gophers

Post by Oolie » 14 Nov 2019, 21:30

I'm cross posting my experiences here in the hopes others will benefit from them.

So I am not a fruit grower so much as a Squirrel and Gopher grower.

The soft sandy loam I grow in supports abundant rodent populations, and I'm always working towards reducing their numbers.

Last year I removed 29 gophers, and this year I have removed 39 so far.

I am working on a hillside of two acres, but most gophers are within a few meters of the irrigated areas.


Intro out of the way, I find that gophers are some of the worst pests you can have, especially in an arid place like SoCal. All the time selecting and breeding superior cultivars, troubleshooting nutrient issues, spraying for pests and diseases, and the priciest water in the country, just to have your trees die due to gopher damage, or be severely stunted due to all their roots being consumed by the pests.

I am of the opinion that the quicker you deal with them, the less opportunity they will have to make all your efforts go to waste.

I find the best times to target them are immediately after a heavy rain, as the softer soil is much easier for them to excavate, and the gophers use the opportunity to lengthen their networks which can be several meters long. That being said I am getting more and more during the dry times between rains, though they are much less active.

There are many alleged methods for dealing with gophers, from blowing their runs up with propane, to using exhaust gas to suffocate them, to using chewing gum to block their digestive track. I use traps, because evidence is everything. I use several types of traps, from Macabees to Victor easy-sets, but none have been as effective as the Trapline traps. The Trapline traps are effective for a number of reasons, being short, they are easy to rotate down a curved path, and can be placed deeper in a tunnel. Wide clearances in the moving areas allow the traps to function even if they are full of dirt. They come in multiple sizes, I use the ones recommended on the web page, and I find that the best odds come from matching the size of the trap to the size of the tunnel.

Many of my Macabees are so rusted that they no longer function.
That is an added benefit of the Traplines, as they are aluminum which does not rust like the Macabees.

Though I do modify my Traplines a bit, I grind the outer sides of the clamps to a steep angle in order to ease insertion into holes.

When I set traps I look for fresh mounds, then dig back to the main run, and set on the main run, in all continuous directions. After setting the traps I then plug the hole with bunched up weeds. I use whatever is most prevalent in the area near the activity. That said, gophers have preferences, and I find they prefer mustard and radish over other types of weeds, though sunflowers and horehound work well if it is all that is available.

I find that if they leave a hole open, I can get them almost every time just by setting a single trap deep into the opening and closing the hole with weeds, but more often than not I'm trapping on main runs.

I have lost most of my trees right when they reach bearing size ~3 years. When you put so much effort into a tree just to lose it before tasting a mature fruit, the time commitment suddenly seems worth it.

It's really important to double-triple check your traps before leaving them. I start by using the trap to ream the runs out. I do this in order to make sure that the action of the trap will not be obstructed by the tunnel walls, then I trigger the trap in its intended location 2-3 times in order to verify the trap move without obstruction. Then I put the trap in place and slightly depress it into the soil in the bottom of the run.

Hopefully this experience provides some help, I know it's slow going, but I tend to get gophers on most holes as long as I am consistent.

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bcossel
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Joined: 25 Oct 2019, 13:18
Location: Casa de Oro, California
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Re: Gophers

Post by bcossel » 15 Nov 2019, 14:43

Thank you for this!

Oolie
Posts: 20
Joined: 10 Nov 2019, 20:52

Re: Gophers

Post by Oolie » 24 Nov 2019, 18:37

I just lost a Pomegranate tree today to the vermin.

I hope I can grow them from cuttings.

Oolie
Posts: 20
Joined: 10 Nov 2019, 20:52

Re: Gophers

Post by Oolie » 09 Dec 2019, 04:04

Up to 45 now, but more on the way.
All the rain has them very active.

Happy to report that trapline has updated their traps ever so slightly, but it is the fine details that improve success.

Oolie
Posts: 20
Joined: 10 Nov 2019, 20:52

Re: Gophers

Post by Oolie » 10 Dec 2019, 22:51

I'm up to 50 now.
Last year I set a record of 60, and I expect to set a new record this year.

Oolie
Posts: 20
Joined: 10 Nov 2019, 20:52

Re: Gophers

Post by Oolie » 12 Dec 2019, 00:31

I'm at 57 now, and more on the way.

Trapline traps are working marvelously, victor easy sets working well, macabees are making gophers smart, so I'm removing them from rotation.

Breaking up the runs after catching them exposes just how large a distance they travel underground, but it's a burden with numbers this high.

Oolie
Posts: 20
Joined: 10 Nov 2019, 20:52

Re: Gophers

Post by Oolie » 19 Dec 2019, 22:13

New record this year, 69 and climbing.

lars1273
Posts: 1
Joined: 22 Jan 2020, 12:52

Re: Gophers

Post by lars1273 » 22 Jan 2020, 12:58

Do you put any 'bait' on your trap or in the tunnel? I just read the instructions on the trapline website and they wrote: Finally, I recommend a small dab of peanut butter be used as bait, which can be applied on the spring of the trap, or on the side of the tunnel near the spring of the trap

I have been setting Victor and macabee traps. I don't use any bait. I have got 15 in the past month, but most of them are on the victor traps. I'm a long way from the number you've gotten this year, keep up the good work.

Do you collapse the tunnels after you catch the gopher?

Oolie
Posts: 20
Joined: 10 Nov 2019, 20:52

Re: Gophers

Post by Oolie » 13 Mar 2020, 20:26

I do, I just shove nearby weeds in the opening to block the hole.

15 is excellent. Last year I totaled 72.

If the Victor is like an easy set or a macabee, you can put peanut butter on the back of the trigger, but I just pull nearby weeds, ball them up between my hands and stuff them in the hole to block it.


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